Nowadays, what with the monsoon not willing to leave us, and the winter morning fog setting in as well, the question always is, "Will we be able to see anything at the beginning of a bird walk?"
Well, enough of us gathered at the pig farm at Muthanallur lake to answer this question...the answer being, "It's difficult to distinguish colours, but the birds are there...and enjoy the lovely monochrome scenery until the colours are clear!"
The pig farm was probably not the most pleasant of places as a meeting point, noisome as it was. However, as soon as I took the mandatory group photo, we set off along the narrow path, and reached the bund of the lake. The water in the lake is still quite high, but the areas near the bund are completely covered by water hyacinth, making it impossible for any waders to forage there. We saw a few Grey Herons, a Purple Heron, and several Egrets, and in the bare trees, we watched a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings arrive and fly around noisily. This reminded me of the majestic Silk-cotton tree at Lalbagh, the blossoms of which are covered by flocks of these Starlings in season, making it a delightful sight!
The next sighting brought forth exclamation marks from everyone; one of the distant bare branches sat a Booted Eagle, one of the winter visitors which one generally expects to see at this location. A few Drongos were there, too, mobbing other birds as usual..but this time, it was Black Kites which mobbed the Eagle and sent it flying off. However, we kept sighting both the pale and dark morphs of this bird as they wheeled overhead in their search for prey.
We walked as far as we could along the bund, noting the excessive growth of Lantana and Parthenium, which crowded out much of the other plants one would like to see. Sunbirds, however, seemed to enjoy nectaring in the former, and the latter had a lot of Lynx spiders and Orb Weavers.. The "chit-chit-chit" of the Pale-billed Flowerpeckers kept up a rhythm to our walking.
Beyond the majestic Mahua tree and the newly-constructed Adi Parashakti temple, the path became really overgrown after a bit, so we retraced our steps to the temple, where we halted to share our snacks, and then walked down perpendicular to the lake bund. In the open space just beyond the temple, the Booted Eagles gave us an aerobatics show again; and several Large Grey Babblers, a Paddyfield Pipit, and some flitting-in-the-undergrowth Warblers kept us occupied.
The path into the Eucalyptus grove yielded a few more birds, and the swampy area that we ended up in had Purple Swamphens, a White-breasted Waterhen, the White-throated Kingfisher, and Bee-eaters too. We watched each bird's behaviour for a while, and then turned and retraced our steps.
All this sounds as if we did the walking in a smooth, continuous way...but that is never the way it is with bird watching! Halt, find something that looks interesting, peer it at through binoculars, try and identify the bird, and then observe it...it's a stop-and-go procedure, with the stops often outnumbering the "go" part!
We noticed several beautiful butterflies on the path, too, and it was pleasant to hear the sound of contented clicking as the macro photographers captured various six- and eight-footers. I was able to point out a few wildflowers like Ipomoea, Indigofera, Trichodesma (such scientific names are, to me, less fascinating than the common names...I much prefer "Coat Button" to "Tridax" and "Krishna Kranti" to Evolvulus!)
All too soon, we wound along the path in the Eucalyptus grove, with the last sighting of a Paradise Flycatcher to keep in our memory (and our memory cards) as a memento of another pleasant morning at Muthanallur kere. As usual, while some of us went home to waiting breakfasts, some adjourned to a group breakfast where we laughed and exchanged notes, and admired excellent shots on the bazooka lenses!
The eBird list is at
I have put up my photos on an FB album at
and the Flickr album is at
Blue, Lesser Grass
Blue, Pale Gass
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass
Cheers, and see you all with "Twenty-Twenty" vision next year!